Saturday, August 29, 2015

$25 million per mile

Citizens of the world like to point out, with heads shaking, the public's ignorance of what percentage of the federal budget goes to foreign aid. Kaiser found a mean estimate of 26%. The actual figure is about 1% (curiously, this reaction is not elicited when it comes to overestimates in the populations of blacks, Jews, gays, or Hispanics). In 2012, that 1% came to about $48.5 billion. 

Here's a modest populist proposal for the Trump campaign--or for one of the other GOP wet noodles who want to show they are still alive and kicking. Scrap foreign aid. All of it. Divert that spending to the barrier. That annual $48.5 billion outlay comes to $24.8 million per mile, or $4,700 per foot. And it would be recurring. Think $25 million a year is enough to maintain a single mile of wall? The US wouldn't have to outsource the work to Mexico with that kind of funding. I bet Trump could get it done ahead of schedule and under budget.

Instead of giving money to other sovereign nations, spend it on securing our own sovereignty instead. I'd vote for that.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Tale of Two Men

One, an alpha male fit for leadership, demonstrating an innate ability to assert control of a situation:



The other, pusillanimity personified, only too ready and willing to capitulate at the feet of the screeching rabble:



Saturday, August 22, 2015

Trump's good genes

See right at 13 minutes in (the ad wall keeps me from sharing at exactly that point):



A little HBD realism in a successful businessman is hardly surprising. Hell, it's probably a prerequisite. But the refusal to treat acknowledging as much as the worst thing in the world is, like just about everything else with Trump's campaign, a breath of fresh air.

I suspect we won't get the disastrous educational romanticism of No Child Left Behind with a Trump presidency, anyway.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Clannishness by ancestry

See Ed West (via the chickadee), on the English not being a very family-oriented people in contrast with Middle Easterners and North Africans on the family-oriented other end of the spectrum and Mediterranean peoples somewhere in between. He subsequently considers the advantages societies with weak family connections enjoy. I'm not sure from the excerpt if he discusses the disadvantages such societies face, like pathological altruism and low fertility rates.

Turns out the GSS has a potentially relevant question from 2002 in which respondents were asked how often they'd been in contact with a cousin in the past four weeks.

Excluding those who did not have any living cousins, I created a simple index of extended family closeness (EFC), by self-reported ethnicity, by giving 2 points for the percentages of respondents who had been in contact with a cousin more than twice in over the last four weeks, 1 point for the percentages who had been in contact once or twice over the same period of time, and no points for the percentages who had no contact with a cousin. Thus the higher the score, the closer the extended family (clannish) ties tend to be. Because the question was only asked in a single iteration of the survey, sample sizes by ethnicity are pretty small. Only responses for ethnicities with at least 25 respondents are included here. The data are suggestive, not statistically significant, so make of them what you will:

EthnicityEFC
African117.1
American Indian94.9
"American" only88.8
Mexican79.0
Italian62.4
Irish58.8
English/Welsh58.7
German56.5
French48.2
Scottish37.4

Given the small sample sizes and inherent imprecision of self-described ethnicity, these results pass the smell test. Excepting those of Scottish descent--maybe these are all low-landers!--the rank ordering is pretty close to what I would've expected it to be. Additionally, I'd have guessed the English/Welsh and French rankings would be flipped and that "Americans" would have come in between Italians and Irish. Many of those who self-identify as "American" are what we might also refer to as "Scotch-Irish" [edit: Only 39% are white while 52% are black and 3% are Hispanic, so the black element is far more explanatory than the potential Scotch-Irish element here, thanks M], so if we plug them roughly into the Irish and Scottish figures, the table has even more stereotypical validity.

GSS variables used: COUSINS(1-3), ETHNIC(1,8,10,11,14,15,17,24,30,97)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Donald Trump says he'd deport illegal immigrants

Trump laughs at your four television networks! And unlike Tom Tancredo back in 2008, he is dominating in the polls, with the most recent showing him at 25% with the next closest in the Republican field at 12%*. His campaign's official platform position on immigration is here. This is a leading presidential contender putting his name behind these things. I have vanishingly little hope in the political process, but the Trump phenomenon is something to behold. If your sentiments are similar to mine, you have to talk this guy up wherever you're able to.

Operation Wetback, carried out during the Eisenhower administration, showed that this isn't actually necessary. The threat of deportation will cause far more illegal immigrants to voluntarily self-deport than will ever actually need to be forcibly removed.

That said, this declaration is great. Carrying it out would do far, far more for American workers than any amount of minimum wage hiking ever will. It's basic supply and demand.

It's also the executive enforcing the people's laws which is, you know, the whole purpose of the executive branch of the federal government in the first place.

A few thoughts that are old hat to me but possibly novel to those who haven't been intellectually invested in the immigration debate over the last decade (or longer):

"Crops are rotting in the fields!"

Every year these ridiculous stories about 'crops rotting in the fields' crop (heh) up. It's called spoilage. It happens in virtually every industry. It's the marginal stuff that remains unpicked after the (almost literal) low-hanging fruit has been taken. It is not profitable to collect at even minimum wage, which is why it goes unpicked by agricultural laborers who are often paid by what they bring in.

The arguments that are made in favor of minimizing wages are the same arguments that can be made in favor of slavery. Without the modern welfare state, voluntary slavery would exist (in the Occident--it still exists in much of the non-Western world). Just came across a story from Rome in the early imperial period where a slave that was manumitted returned to his master a couple of weeks later pleading desperately to be returned to slavery because he had been reduced to emaciation and sleeping in public--at least slaves were fed, clothed, and given shelter. The only real difference between low wage agricultural work and slave agricultural work is that in the former the workers are paid subsistence wages while in the latter they are simply paid subsistence.

No country characterized by low labor costs is also a country with high median wages. It doesn't happen because wealth is not created by having humans perform menial tasks for minimal compensation but instead by mechanizing those menial tasks so that humans can do other things. There are lots of stories about how agricultural firms are investing in mechanized substitutes for labor they don't want to pay for. Necessity is the mother of invention and innovation. The US can either chase cheap labor like ancient Egypt, Persia, or Rome or it can industrialize and mechanize like England in the industrial revolution.

"Immigrants do jobs Americans won't do!"

The "jobs Americans won't do" canard is, well, a canard. The top ten states in terms of low unemployment rates:

1) Nebraska
2) North Dakota
3) Utah
4) Vermont
5) Iowa
t6) New Hampshire
t6) South Dakota
8) Minnesota
9) Montana
t10) Idaho
t10) Hawaii

Those are not states characterized by high levels of immigration. To the contrary, every one of those states except for Hawaii (and Hawaii's immigrants are emphatically not the same immigrants that are inundating the contiguous 48 states from south of the border) has immigrant population percentages below the national average.

It's almost as if third-world peasants aren't there to do entry level jobs at sub-poverty wage rates (that are then heavily subsidized by those of us who are net taxpayers), Americans will do the jobs Americans won't do! Who mows the lawns, washes the dishes, and builds the houses in Montana? Must be Canadian immigrants!

These states also all have relatively high monetary standards of living, low crime, relative income equality, etc.

Mexico plays us like a fiddle. They export the bottom of their society that can't make it in Mexico and in return they get tens of billions of dollars in remittances each year. Export your poverty, your criminals, and your underachievers; get boatloads of cash in return. What's not to love? What's not to love if you're Mexico, that is.

The benefit to the US is a lot harder to determine because there isn't one unless you're an employer reaping the profits of cheap labor while throwing all the costs associated with that cheap labor onto taxpayers. Privatize profits, socialize costs--it's the new motto of corporate America.

* I don't think he's going to win the GOP nomination. If he manages to stand against the entire Establishment (really, all the opinion-making organs of society are against him--both political parties, the major media, big business) through multiple debates where traps will continue to be set exclusively for him, what will likely end up happening is that as the other ~16 GOP contenders drop out of the race one by one, they'll all start throwing their support behind one of the non-Trump candidates still in, so that it'll eventually just be Trump vs top Establishment candidate and most of the ~75% of Republican voters who are spread out across non-Trump candidates right now will come together against him.

I'm hopeful that he'll make a third party bid. The Republican party, like the Conservative party in Britain, is incapable of doing what needs to be done to maintain Anglo-Saxon civilization. Trump just might be able to give birth to something akin to Britain's UKIP in the US. If he does run third party, he won't win, but he likely would get the 5% required for said third party to be able to tap over $90 million in federal campaign funding in 2020, which is a prerequisite for any chance of a serious third party coming into being down the road. That is my hopeful outcome for the 2016 election.